The Essential You

Beach Big Sur

I used to live in a prison of worry, the worry about what others might think of me, as so many of us do.  I was a people-pleaser extraordinaire.  I would do anything to get your approval, and if there was one person out there who was upset with me, or didn’t like me, it became my mission to win them over.   Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, tells it like it is when she says:

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”

Now there’s a real pearl!  In all my striving for approval, for perfection, and trying to fit myself into what others expected of me, I grew up to be just that–a jackass whisperer! As a matter of fact, I excelled at it. (Here’s a confession:  when I was in the 6th grade, a boy asked me to go steady with him.  I didn’t like him, not one bit, but true to form, I said yes…I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  I needed to be known as nice, kind, agreeable, never mind how much it upset me to have to be considered his steady girlfriend!)

Thankfully, I’ve given up the art of jackass whispering, but it didn’t come easily.

A healthy, loving relationship with our Self is the foundation for all relationships, for everything.  I have found that many of us relate to ourselves and others in one of two dysfunctional ways:  sacrificing who we are by thinking only about pleasing/serving others, denying our own needs, values and longings, being the “good girl” or the hero, putting ourselves last; or we become vain, superficial, inconsiderate and self-obsessed.  They really are two sides of the same self-conscious, ego-driven coin, both a reflection of feeling less-than, unworthy or even a deep self loathing.  Both are fear-based strategies of hiding who we really are, trying to stay unique and separate, avoiding intimate loving connectedness.  Both are self-sabotaging deprivation chambers of loneliness, and they lead to seeking comfort in self-destructive ways.  We listen all day to our mind’s relentless empty chatter, judgement, harsh critique, and to the cacophony of the noise and voices of others.  We don’t know how, or we forget, to listen to the quiet, compassionate inner voice.  From this mindless, inauthentic place, while tuning out our own truth and wisdom, we feel an emptiness, a separation, a loneliness, which we translate into “I need/I want___________” (fill in the blank…food, money, sex, car, validation, agreement, a better body, new house, a partner, more stuff…and on and on).

“There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who are alive and those who are afraid…..”
“If you carry someone else’s fears and live by someone else’s values, you may find that you have lived their lives.”
~Rachel Naomi Remen

Think of all the advice that’s out there telling us how to be successful, how to get what we want out of life, how to have healthy relationships with a partner, our kids, our friends, our work colleagues.  We become programmed by other’s values, convinced we need what they say we need.  We allow ourselves to be defined by the standards of others.  We give all our personal power away.  From this disempowered place, we may find ourselves in search of that perfect person, who will make us happy and feel whole.  Broken, we search for a true soul mate.

Well, I can tell you where to find your soul mate…the ONE that’s been with you all along…it is  YOU.

Meet your own Essence, embrace it, let it inform you, let it comfort and inspire and entertain you.  You will end up making loving, supportive and wise life decisions, and the Universe will conspire on your behalf.  (It actually does, anyway, with or without your permission!)

Listen to your gut, to your true heart’s desire.  Get to know the language and geography of the soul.  The soul’s realm is metaphor, myth, images and dreams.  It is creative, endless possibility.  Re-establish your connection with Spirit.  All solutions are spiritual solutions.  Surrender, and break free.

Root Woman

When we focus only on the physical and mental aspects of ourselves, we are forgetting, literally abandoning, our Divine Mind, our heart, our spirit, our very Essence.  We have a body, it serves us, yet it is not who we are.  We have roles, titles and job descriptions, yet they are not who we are.  We have, but we are not, our thoughts or our stories. So…who am I, who are you?

It seems that has been The Question that has been a driving force in my life and I have found that the answer is revealed when I discover what I am NOT.  I’m not my body, I’m not my thoughts, I’m not my roles, I’m not who others think I am, I’m not my successes, I’m not my failures.

It’s a shedding process, and it gets messy, and sometimes some flesh gets torn off and it hurts…

Yet when we strip down to our Soul/Essence, we are in the truth of who we really are.  It is a place of power.  We find beauty and wonder and our whole, healed, authentic Self.  From that compassionate, inspired awareness, we find that we want to take care of the vessel, the body, which holds this Essence, here in this life, in the physical world.  This vessel, this body, becomes what it is meant to be, the temple of our Spirit.


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  • jessica swift July 10, 2013, 9:26 pm

    “It seems that has been The Question that has been a driving force in my life and I have found that the answer is revealed when I discover what I am NOT. I’m not my body, I’m not my thoughts, I’m not my roles, I’m not who others think I am, I’m not my successes, I’m not my failures.” >> I love this! And I love what you said about this being a place of power. I want to live there. Thanks, Barbara! xoxo

  • Barbara Swift July 11, 2013, 12:37 am

    Glad this resonated with you, Jessica, and oh, yes, it’s just the best place to live!
    Thank you… xoxo

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